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When Good Doctors Go Bad Lucian L. Leape, MD American Surgical Association Boston August 21, 2006 Failure to ensure that all of our colleagues are competent and safe is ethically indefensible. ACS Code of Professional Conduct Maintain competence throughout our surgical careers

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when good doctors go bad

When Good Doctors Go Bad

Lucian L. Leape, MD

American Surgical Association

Boston

August 21, 2006

acs code of professional conduct
ACS Code of Professional Conduct
  • Maintain competence throughout our surgical careers
  • Respect the knowledge, dignity, and perspective of other healthcare professionals
  • Participate in self regulation by setting, maintaining, and enforcing practice standards
types of performance problems
Types of Performance Problems

1. The Psychopathic physician

2. The impaired physician

Substance abuse - alcohol / drugs

Mental illness

Physical illness

3. Declining Competency

4. Behavioral Problems

Disruptive physician

- Refuses to follow rules

- Abusive behavior

Abusive with patients

types of performance problems5
Types of Performance Problems

1. The Psychopathic Physician ? 0.1%

2. The impaired physician

Substance abuse - alcohol / drugs 15%

Mental illness 15%

Physical illness 10%

3. Declining Competency

recertification exam failure rates 2004
Recertification Exam Failure Rates(2004)

Board No. % Failed

Am. Bd. Surgery

General surgery 800 4%

Subspecialties 233 9%

Am. Bd. Pediatrics

General pediatrics 3400 1%

Subspecialties 2200 4%

Am. Bd. Internal Med

Internal Medicine 3042 14%

Specialties 3054 10%

Am. Bd. Family Med 6606 11%

slide7

Types of Performance Problems1. The Psychopathic Physician ? 0.1%2. The impaired physicianSubstance abuse - alcohol / drugs 15% Mental illness 15% Physical illness 10%3. Declining Competency 5-10%

4. Behavioral Problems

Disruptive physician

what do surveys reveal about disruptive behavior
What do surveys reveal about disruptive behavior?

NURSES:

  • Nurses witnessing or receiving it 95%
  • Verbal abuse every 2-3 months 64%
  • Believe it is a cause of nurses leaving 37%
  • Percent of doctors exhibiting it 5.7%

HOSP EXECS: 1-5%

slide9

Types of Performance Problems1. The Psychopathic Physician ? 0.1%2. The impaired physicianSubstance abuse - alcohol / drugs 15% Mental illness 15% Physical illness 10%3. Declining Competency 5-10%

4. Behavioral Problems

Disruptive physician ? 5%

Refuses to follow rules

Abusive behavior

Abusive with patients ? 5%

slide10
All causes considered, 30-40% of all physicians will have a problem at some time in their career that will impair their ability to practice medicine safely.

For a hospital staff of 100, this means that at any one time 1 or 2 physicians need help.

why are doctors reluctant to act
Why are doctors reluctant to act?
  • Distasteful to judge peers
  • Emotionally difficult – “family”
  • “Glass house” syndrome
  • Fear of retribution
  • No good mechanism
we have a non system
We have a “Non-System”
  • Implicit
  • Personal
  • Punitive

It’s “all or nothing”

we define performance problems as disciplinary problems
We define performance problems as disciplinary problems
  • “Hung up” on punishing

- Want to “weed them out”

  • Safety objective: prevention
what would we like to do
What would we like to do?

1. Identify doctors with problems early

2. Do something about it

3. Do it in a timely fashion

We need a system

what are the essential characteristics of an effective professional accountability system
What are the essential characteristics of an effective professional accountability system?
  • Objective - based on data, not opinion
  • Fair - applies to everyone
  • Responsive – prompt and effective treatment

GOAL: to enable the physician to continue to practice medicine

what would an effective professional accountability system look like
What would an effective professional accountability system look like?
  • Adopt performance standards
  • Adherence is a condition of appointment to staff
  • Adherence is monitored (everyone)
  • Feedback of results and action as needed
  • Broad repertoire of methods for remediation
slide17
Sub par performance can be objectively defined
  • Routine monitoring of all members of the medical staff is necessary to detect problems fairly and early
  • The response to deficiencies should be prompt, constructive, and sustained
what is needed
What is needed?
  • Standards
  • Measures
  • Assessment and remediation programs
acgme abms competency standards
ACGME / ABMS Competency Standards
  • Compassionate, appropriate, and effective patient care
  • Medical knowledge and its application to patient care
  • Practice-based learning and improvement
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Professionalism and ethical behavior
  • Systems-based practice
example of a behavioral standard
Example of a Behavioral Standard

“Treat Co-workers with Respect”

  • Hostile behavior is forbidden (raised voice, insults, public reprimands)
  • No demeaning behavior or humiliation of residents and nurses
  • No derogatory comments about colleagues – oral or written
  • Work in meaningful teams
  • Accept challenges to authority
what measures are available
What measures are available?
  • ABMS competency measures are being developed
      • ABIM competency testing now
  • Gerald Hickson’s analysis of patient complaints
  • PAR “360” multitrait evaluations
what about
What about:
  • Annual physical exams
  • Drug testing
  • Cognitive testing
what is needed23
What is needed?
  • Standards
  • Measures
  • Assessment and remediation programs
how will we develop programs for assessment and remediation
How will we develop programs for assessment and remediation?

Need a collaborative effort

ABMS

FSMB

JCAHO

are we willing to support recovering doctors
Are we willing to support recovering doctors?
  • Who pays for assessment and remediation?
  • How is his/her income maintained?
  • Are we willing to make refresher positions available in all of our residency programs?
  • Are we willing to mentor and supervise retrained doctors?
  • Will we let them care for our patients?
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